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3 Things Your Project Manager Should Focus On Instead of the Project Plan

Posted by Jesse Guzman, Consultant on Nov 10, 2017 10:35:18 AM
Jesse Guzman, Consultant
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What value is your project manager (PM) bringing to your projects? 

Many project managers believe that they add value by creating the project plan and ensuring projects are completed on time and on budget.  But, I would argue that there are 3 things much more important to your project’s success than simply sticking to the project plan. They are:

  1. Ask the Hard Questions

    One of the biggest pitfalls I see with project managers is they avoid asking the hard questions.  It’s easy to become an order taker, but that won’t always translate to a successful project.  Sometimes asking the hard question means impacting the budget and schedule. Even if you do not stick to the present budget and schedule, asking the hard questions early will ensure the success of the project in the long run by mitigating as many future problems on the horizon.   

    A few questions you should look out for include:

    Is there anything that would prevent the project from being successful?
    Is there anyone on the team that is resisting this project?
    Is this the best project to invest in right now?
    How will you measure the success of this project?

    Ideally, these questions should be asked prior to the start of the project or when there is a major change in stakeholders, such as a main project sponsor leaving.  Asking the hard questions ensures that you stay focused on the goal of the project.  A PM will be successful if they are willing to put their own agenda aside and focus on the priorities of the client.
  1. Advocate for their Client

    Successful PM’s become an integral part of the organization they are serving.  Not only do they understand who the stakeholders are, they understand how to work through roadblocks.  They become the voice of your project.  They advocate on your behalf with internal stakeholders and external stakeholders and address roadblocks.  Not all roadblocks have to do with project timelines and budgets.  A few examples of roadblocks include:

    Lack of Engagement
    Resistance to Change
    Vague Goals
    Inefficient communication and response time
    Organizational challenges
    Remote employees

    A PM that can navigate through the unexpected roadblocks that inevitably rise in every organization will add value to the project because they continue to focus on the goal. 
  1. Focus on the Goal

    Does your PM say things like:

    This may be out of scope
    This change will cost you more
    We’ll need to see if resources are available for what you’re asking for

    If so, your PM may be more focused on hitting the budget and schedule, rather than accomplishing your goals.  While hitting project deadlines and budgets is an important part of a PM’s job, it will not always lead to achieving the ROI you are expecting from your project.  You want a PM that is asking questions like:

    What is your ideal outcome?
    How much value will this project provide your organization?
    How will you measure success?
Asking the hard question and being the project advocate all drive to what must be the primary focus of any PM, focusing on the goal of the project.  A goal focused PM will succeed more times than not because they delivered what was promised to the client.  Ultimately, completing a project on time and on budget is ideal and in no way should be taken lightly, however focusing on the project goal will lead to the long term success and trusted relationship with your client.

At Concentrus we are goal oriented and view our clients as our partners, therefore your success is our success. As such, we will challenge your goal to ensure everyone keeps the ultimate goal in mind throughout the entire process.

If you have questions about how to best approach a project, feel free to contact us today! We would love to hear about your project and your goals.

Contact Us Today! 

Tags: Project Management

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